90 Years of History in the Making

Excerpts of Presentation by Kathy Silks – National Civil War Museum, 09/24/2011
It’s been said that the good we do lives after us.   That can be true of organizations as well as individuals, and I believe it’s true of us collectively as the Harrisburg Branch of AAUW.  It is a history filled with community enrichment, spotlighting issues affecting women and girls, establishing meaningful partnerships with key local organizations, giving branch members and area citizens’ opportunities to engage in lifelong learning


    • 1921 – Branch founded
    • Co-founded Harrisburg Community Theatre
    • Established student college loan fund


    • Issued report:  Economic and Legal Status of Women
    • Study groups included child psychology, social problems, drama, music, and international relations
    • Formed our own choral group – University Singers


    • Board members sewed layettes for the Red Cross and branch raised more than $3,000 toward the University Women’s War Relief Fund to aid university women who were war victims and refugees
    • Feeling the economic pinch, the branch raised dues to $7.00
    • Authors Janet Flanner and Frances Parkinson Keyes presented at branch meetings
    • For our 25th anniversary – co-sponsored College Night at local high schools
    • Conducted a Career Night with representatives from more than 75 colleges, universities, and business schools
    • Branch members were active in developing a zoning program for Harrisburg


    • Launched a fundraising event – used book sale
    • Established poetry recognition contest for young people
    • Co-sponsored “Let’s Read” program for elementary students with Harrisburg Public Library – included six weekly radio broadcasts
    • Sponsored the first of three Allied Arts Festivals at The Forum, the precursors of the Greater Harrisburg Arts Council and the annual Arts Festivals at the State Museum
    • Collaborated with several other branches on a series of neighborhood conferences on such topics as mental health, investments and securities, and facing community problems
    • Branch’s Mental Health Research Committee conducted a survey for the PA Dept. of Public Welfare on the effective utilization of mental health educational materials
    • Co-sponsored (with Tri-County Mental Health Association) monthly lectures by psychologists and psychiatrists
    • Established a speakers bureau featuring forty branch members and covering twenty topical areas
    • Branch membership totaled 455, representing 107 colleges and universities
    • Branch named one of 250 Honor Clubs of America by the Woman’s Home Companion


    • Began sponsoring an annual Harrisburg Allied Arts Festival, featuring the Harrisburg Choral Society, The Civic Ballet, the Harrisburg Community Theatre, and the Harrisburg Symphony
    • Conducted a survey on the high school dropout rate in nine area schools (lowest: Camp Hill; highest: Harrisburg)
    •  Branch’s higher Education Committee developed AAUW Roundtable, four half-hour panel discussions on WHP-TV, highlighting significant aspects of higher education across PA (distributed nationally through the Association office)
    • Co-sponsored one-day Educational Institute to assess the local need for a community college
    • Co-sponsored Harrisburg area library workshops and surveys to establish East and West Shore libraries
    • Co-sponsored first Women’s Legislative Conference
    • Branch luncheon featured Barbara Walters as speaker


    • Established student loan funds at Messiah College, University Center, and Penn State’s Capital Campus and a full-tuition scholarship at HACC
    • Grant to HACC’s Community Resources Institute for communications courses open to the public
    • Established AAUW Poetry Award, part of the annual Scholastic Writing Contest
    • Sponsored Windows on the World, weekly radio series on WMSP-FM presenting interviews by branch members on Current community concerns
    • Co-sponsored Public Policy and Working Women Conference
    • First annual branch bridge tournament to benefit the Fellowship-Scholarship Fund


    • Co-sponsored publication of Harrisburg: A Walk Through History, a self-guided walking tour
    • Published Silhouettes, a study of famous women in Harrisburg’s history
    • Sponsored Private Space: The Personal Diaries of Women, a series on WITF-FM
    • Conducted a phone survey for Dauphin County Library System assessing local government officials’ understanding of library services
    • Established $25,000 60th anniversary Research and Projects Endowment
    • 65th anniversary – worked with coalition of women’s groups to celebrate Women in History month


    • Sponsored Equity in Education roundtable discussion between business and education
    • Began giving Gender Equity Model presentations to schools and community organizations
    • Involved in PA Network for Change, a voter education program
    • 70th anniversary – established Martha M. Dohner Memorial Scholarship
    • 75th anniversary – A Celebration of Diversity


    • Community outreach work with YWCA of Greater Harrisburg, including creation of the Betty Sullivan Memorial Library
    • Co-sponsored (with York Branch) readings from Profiles of Women Past and Present
    • Branch talent show:  Making Herstory
    • 85th anniversary: Gateway to the Future